"Highlanders Leaving Their Village" by Petr Gruzinsky shows the expulsion by the Russian Empire of Circassians, the indigenous peoples of North Caucasus from their homeland after its annexation by Russia at the end of the Russo-Circassian War of 1763–1864. The peoples expelled were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza. (Image: Wikimedia)

"Highlanders Leaving Their Village" by Petr Gruzinsky shows the expulsion by the Russian Empire of Circassians, the indigenous peoples of North Caucasus from their homeland after its annexation by Russia at the end of the Russo-Circassian War of 1763–1864. The peoples expelled were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza. (Image: Wikimedia) 

International, Opinion

Ten Ukrainian deputies in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada including both some from the ruling party and others from the opposition have formed a new group, For a Free Caucasus, to press the Ukrainian parliament to approve a resolution declaring Russia’s expulsion of Circassians in 1864 to have been an act of genocide.
Oleksiy Honcharenko

Oleksiy Honcharenko (Photo: RFE/RL)

Their leader, Oleksiy Honcharenko, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has also called on PACE to do the same. He attempted to speak via a video recording to the Third International Congress of Circassians in Istanbul but was blocked by those who feared offending Moscow.

The Istanbul meeting attracted some 70 Circassian activists from more than a dozen countries, but it divided between those who believe that securing international recognition of the genocide is the most important task and those who argue that ensuring the return of Circassians to the homeland is.

Related: Circassians and their fate: introduction into history of nation expelled by Russian Empire from Caucasus

While the first were enthusiastic about the Ukrainian plans, the second were very much opposed, arguing that a Ukrainian action in this regard would offend Moscow and make it impossible for Circassians to make progress on the return of their numbers to the North Caucasus, an attitude Moscow clearly supports and appears to have orchestrated.

Because of this division, the Istanbul meeting was not a success, limiting itself to largely empty declarations, an approach which has been sharply criticized by other Circassians since (newcaucasus.com and circassianpress.blogspot.com).

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